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Hidden gems along the Delhi-Agra road

Hidden gems along the Delhi-Agra road
OFFBEAT

By Aquib Nawab

13 Jun, 2024

The journey from Delhi to Agra is much more than just a path to the Taj Mahal. While the crown jewel of Agra is surely a must-see, the 200-kilometre stretch between the two cities holds many hidden treasures waiting to be explored.

The magic of Fatehpur Sikri awaits you

Fatehpur Sikri, an abandoned Mughal city, is situated 42 kilometers away from Agra. This sandstone complex was built by Emperor Akbar in the 16th century and served as the capital of the Mughal Empire for almost a decade before being abandoned due to a lack of water. To this day, it remains remarkably well preserved and provides us with a glimpse into imperial life in medieval India.

Credits: Canva

One key attraction here is the Jama Masjid mosque, which happens to be one of India’s largest mosques. Set on a high flight of steps stands Buland Darwaza, an intimidating fifty-four-meter-tall red sandstone gate decorated with white marble motifs.

In addition to its grandeur, there’s some eerie beauty that emanates from Fatehpur Sikri’s empty palaces and tranquil courtyards. Therefore, you can take as long as possible exploring through its perfectly kept royal compound since this phantom settlement will surely take you back in time.

Gaze at the beauty of Keoladeo National Park

Formerly a duck hunting ground for Maharajas, Keoladeo National Park is now an avian sanctuary listed under UNESCO World Heritage Site status. More than 370 bird species have made their homes among these lush wetlands, including vibrant kingfishers and endangered Siberian cranes.

Credits: Canva

Ride a bicycle rickshaw silently along paths connecting marshes and forests throughout the park area. Observe storks and egrets fishing in shallow waters as parakeets make noises above in the trees’ canopy. With luck, you might even see one of the park’s most famous residents, the majestic greater one-horned rhino.

Don’t forget to bring your picnic basket or climb up a tower to enjoy this bird watcher’s paradise. Keoladeo will provide you with an escape from the noise of the Golden Triangle in just a short drive.

Step back into time at Lohagarh, an abandoned town

Lohagarh is a ghost town that has remained unchanged for years and is located close to Keoladeo. It was built during the Maharaja Suraj Mal era in the early 1800s and once had a thriving township complete with an elaborate fortress, mint, and even a royal pottery factory. However, by 1858, attacks on Lohagarh by British troops had resulted in its abandonment and eventual ruin.

Credits: Canva

Wildlife and vegetation shroud these dilapidated remains of what used to be a flourishing city. Walk down the main road, lined with crumbling store facades. Look into abandoned houses, some still containing items strewn about them.

Despite being untouched for centuries, one can feel the weight of history within this tall entrance gate. This forsaken town has spooky residences as well as a bazaar that we could explore if we were daring enough.

Village life at Raipur Jatt

Spend some time in Raipur Jatt if you want to see rural India at its best. There are traditional kuccha huts scattered around this charming village amidst mustard fields ready for harvest. Talk to the friendly locals who go about their daily chores happily. Street cricket games are played by children while cows roam around freely. 

Credits: Canva

See the village temple, where bells tinkle in the breeze. Across fields of wheat and lentils, which stretch to eternity, walks one. It would be a good idea to relax for a cup of chai and take in the slower pace of life prevalent in this farming community. You cannot go wrong with an authentic Indian village experience when you travel from Delhi to Agra.

Sikandara: Get lost in history

Situated just outside Agra is the rather quiet town of Sikandara, home to Emperor Akbar’s imposing tomb made from granite and red sandstone. Although it is grand in size, some subtle beauty can be found in Sikandara. Surrounding this central building are vast lawns bordered by cypress trees leading up towards it.

Credits: Canva

The light filtering through stone jaalis casts designs on its floor as it falls into the chamber wherein lies Akbar.

There can never be a better place than Sikandara to meditate on the rich history of the Mughal Empire. For a bird's-eye view of an ancient mound dotted with countryside, climb to its summit. This peacefulness will make you lose time while exploring a monument dedicated to one big Indian sovereign.

Hostels along the road for budget travelers

The road between Delhi and Agra boasts various types of accommodation, but for travelers on shoe-string budgets, staying at hostels may provide adequate comfort without spending a lot of money. The good news is that there are many hostels along this route specifically designed for low-cost but socially conscious backpackers.

The Hosteller Agra: Stunning hostel close to Taj

Just a few minutes away from one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, “The Hosteller Agra," this hostel is a great choice for anyone planning to visit Taj Mahal plus other famous spots in Agra city. Their dorms are clean and modern, with private rooms or dorms available, making this hostel attractive because of more than these things.

Credits: Hosteller

Rest as the sun sets behind the Taj Mahal on their wide open terraces that are at many levels—a budget traveler’s luxury! The common areas are perfect for mingling with other backpackers in a community setting. Play carroms in the basement or go for a Bollywood night.

The Hosteller Agra has excellent reviews because of its world-class facilities, including free Wi-Fi, 24-hour reception, an on-site cafe, and the best views. It’s a good choice when you’re looking for a place that is near the Taj Mahal, vibrant, and affordable for someone who doesn’t want to spend much while traveling.

The Hosteller Delhi: India’s biggest hostel

Situated in south Delhi, “The Hosteller Delhi” is close to Ashram Metro station(Pink Line). Lotus temple, Akshardham, NZM train station and many other heritage sites in Delhi are just a few miles away from our hostel.

Credits: Hosteller

Secure accommodations at this lively hostel range from dorms to private rooms and include such amenities as free WiFi, personal lockers, bed lights, and an onsite café. Travelers can always count on friendly staff to help them make the most of their stay in this exciting town.

Join The Hostellers pub crawls, karaoke nights, beer pong tournaments, and dancing competitions in both indoor and outdoor spaces during the evenings. You could also watch movies at night alongside new friends under starlight on top of buildings. With daily free events going on all day long, there is never a dull moment at this highly rated hostel.

5 things you must know before embarking on the journey from Delhi to Agra

Take note of these five crucial things before you begin your journey from Delhi to Agra:

  • Mode of Transport: You can choose between train, bus or private car. The Gatimaan Express is the fastest express while buses are cheaper. Beware of traffic if driving a private car but enjoy flexibility.
  • Making Booking in Advance: For either trains or buses, it’s good to book tickets early enough so that you do not miss out on seats. Several websites such as IRCTC for trains and RedBus for buses have facilities that allow online bookings.
  • Timings: Plan your trip during hours when Taj Mahal is open (between sunrise and sunset except on Friday). It is always recommendable to start early in order to escape the crowds and catch sight of this beautiful structure at its best moments during dawn.
  • Knowledge about the way: Be familiar with the route and possible detours. In case of network issues, a GPS navigation system may be useful though it is advisable to depend more on offline maps.
  • Safety measures: Put safety first especially during this pandemic. Carry hand sanitizers, masks and maintain social distancing.

By taking into account these elements can make your journey from Delhi to Agra enjoyable as well as trouble free.

Summarizing

Delhi and Agra are two famous Golden Triangle cities connected by an amazing drive filled with unusual, little-known gems. Off the beaten track lie ancient deserted towns like Fatehpur Sikri or Lohagarh, while others include Keoladeo National Park and Raipur Jatt, which enable one to experience nature or village life, respectively.

For travelers on tight budgets, staying in cheap social hostels such as The Hosteller is part of the adventure. Follow this path and let India’s magic unfold through its hidden treasures along the Delhi-Agra highway.

Note: The feature image has been generated through AI (Images copyright- Midjourney)

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